Barbara Walters made a stupid comment on her ABC program, The View, this week when she told her viewers how uncomfortable she felt sitting next to a women breastfeeding her baby on an airplane. Flickerbug watched the show and recounts the gory details:
Ms. Walters commented how she was luckily separated, by her hairdresser in the center seat, from the woman in the aisle who needed to breastfeed her child on the flight. Not only did she comment on how she found this disturbing to “view,” she questioned why this woman wouldn’t have the decency to cover up.
Doesn’t ABC provide her with a producer? Aren’t producers supposed to prevent celebrities like her from making stupid statements on air which are going to offend a significant portion of their female viewing audience (and for Pete’s sake, she does a daytime talk show!)? It only goes to show that Barbara is a media dinosaur, born of another era and maybe it’s time to retire her to wherever good dinosaurs go when they’re no longer useful to the species. But I sorta wish Stone Phillips or Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly had said it because they certainly would agree with Barbara and it’d be so much more fun to see them skewered mercilessly by breastfeeding mommies everywhere (and their supportive spouses–of which I am one). Barbara so deserved the 200 mommies converging on ABC’s headquarters in Manhattan for a public ‘lact-in’ (remember those sit-in of the 60s?). The New York Times carries a story about the demonstration against stupid media celebrities who open their mouths on the air:
The protest…brought about 200 women to ABC’s headquarters yesterday. They stood nursing their babies in the unmistakably public venue of Columbus Avenue and West 67th Street. They held signs reading, “Shame on View” and “Babies are born to be breastfed.” Ms. Walters, who remarked a few weeks ago on the show that the sight of a woman breast-feeding on an airplane next to her had made her uncomfortable, said through a spokesman that “it was a particular circumstance and we are surprised that it warrants a protest”
Not only did Barbara stick her foot in her mouth, her spokesperson just shoved her other foot in there too. “Surprised that it warrants a protest?” Ain’t that just dandy. Old lady who probably never even breastfed herself expresses disdain for a good portion of the female population and, what did she expect, flowers??! I say more power to these mothers. Breastfeed wherever you need to. If someone else has a problem with it–make it their problem and not yours. And if, God forbid, a business refuses service to you or asks you to adjourn to the bathroom, you just bring 100 mothers to their front door and make them rethink their dinosaur attitudes. The sooner people realize that the breast is not a sex organ, but a means to sustain life, the sooner they’ll advance into the early 21st century. I especially liked this comment in the article:
“It’s like any other prejudice. They have to get used to it,” said Rebecca Odes, co-founder of The New Mom blog, who attended the ABC protest. "People don’t want to see it because they feel uncomfortable with it, and they feel uncomfortable with it because they don’t see it.”
That’s precisely right. Generations of men have ingrained into older women that it’s insulting or offensive to see a woman breastfeed in public. But why settle for the received wisdom when it’s prejudiced and just plain wrong? After an especially nasty run in with my own mother (one of Barbara’s fellow dinosaurs) who fled the room when my wife nursed our eldest son in her presence, I noticed this story about women protesting when the morons who run Newburgh airport removed a piece of public art which displayed (are you ready for this?) a mother feeding her newborn. I wrote my own blog post about it.